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December 27, 1968 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-12-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

`Portrait of Yahweh as a Young
God' Termed 'Irreverent, Funny'

Greta Wels-Schon, who was
born and raised on the shores of
the Baltic and before the Nazi
era was active in German literary
circles, writing for German and
Swiss magazines, now lives in
Mallorca and is enchanted with
Spain. Which caused her to state:
"One cannot live in Spain with-
out being aware of the Pillars of
Hercules. As usual, the Greeks
get the credit for them. Being
quite familiar with ancient his-
tory, I decided to get that straight
and for this purpose I turned to
the Old Testament, which is one
of the most important books on
ancient history. To my astonish-
ment I found myself confronted
there by a competely unknown
God, who had been hidden from
us by piles and piles of theology.
It was with an immense joy that
I came to know Yahweh, this God
who is far from being dead and
far from being the Ultimate Reali-
ty."
This reference is to her "Por-
trait of Yahweh as a Young God,"
published by Holt, Rinehart and
Winston (383 Madison, NY17),
which is to her "a book for the
grown-up, whose Sunday School
God has ceased to make sense to
them," and which the publishers
view as "irreverent, constructive
and funny." -
She makes much of the Pillars
of Hercules and exploring them as
related to world history and to
Spain, the Phoenicians, the Greeks,
and she declares "If we want
to know more about the Pillars
of Hercules, we must have a look
at the Temple in Jerusalem; we
can follow its building in bewil-
dering detail in the books of Kings
and Chronicles. . . ."
Turning to the Old Testament
in her studious efforts she
"found emerging from it the
portrait of Yahweh as a young
God, as alive._ and,. mr. close to
humanity as no other god. This
God meant to make history and
he made it; in the Old Testa-
ment he has left us his auto-
b i ogr a ph y, ghostwritten by
Moses and the Prophets. And
with this God I made my peace."
She proceeds sZth her interest-
ing study and self-exposure as an
expose of anti-Americanism and
anti-Semitism: theologically, mak-
ing this interesting observation:
"As I am not an American, I can
with detachment enjoy watching
the rest of the world sneering in
loud derision at America and her
way of life, and coveting and copy-
ing her as best it can. Copying
her, asking for and receiving her
aid, and remaining anti-American
all'the same, whether ally or foe.
And the parallel to anti-Semitism
is obvious. For thousands of years
the world has borrowed ideologies
of Semitic origin, and remained
anti-Semitic all the time."
Then came her conclusion in
which she asserts: "Looking
back at our road towards hu-
manity through the telescope of
the Old Testament, history, and
prehistory, I cannot share today's
pessimism. History can be dis-
couraging, but it offers also a
spirited vista: the fact that Man
has survived his own ideologies
is encouraging indeed. It borders
on the miraculous, and fills me
with skeptical confidence in the
future ,of Homo Sapiens despite
himself. 'Do not hanker over
quick results,' Confucius said."
A number of the excerpts from
"Portrait of Yahweh as a Young
God" by Greta Wels-Schon add to
an understanding of her book. She
wrote:
"To get to the root of anti-Semi-
tism, one must begin at the be-
ginning of Senutism. To summar-
ize as briefly as possible: Moses
felt called by a new god to estab-
lish a strictly exclusively theocra-
cracy in a more or less clearly de-
fined Near Eastern territory. The
new god committed himself re-
peatedly, to a selected group of
Semitic tribes, to the effect that
he would give them the promised
land as _an inheritance forever.
Due to tinTaVorible 'circumstances

in the ancient Near East, this
promise could not be fulfilled. Man
wants to know reasons, and, as
Frankfort said, the primitive mind
does not look 'for the how, but for
the who, when it looks for a case'
(Before Philosophy, p. 24).
"Who is to blame? Even in
Polytheism gods are not often
blamed„ because to whitewash
gods and to blacken Man is the
raison d'etre of all theology. To
justify the god's way to Man is
the theologian's irrational busi-
ness.
"In the Prophets' case, who is
to be blamed for the national dis-
aster but the Jews? Furthermore,
not only the political but any mis-
fortune at all has to be blamed on
the new god's worshipers, who
'happen to be Jews. Thus the Old
Testament becomes the first and
most eloquent anti-Semite docu-
ment in history."
"Christian writers, who in anger
and embarrassment reject the God
of the Old Testament, are at least
a humorous sight to the onlooker
when they are so obviously em-
barrassed to find a divine ruffian
at the bottom of their ideological
pedigree. No matter how noble the
family tree, at the bottom is al-
ways a common ruffian.
"Yahweh is a most uncommon
ruffian: He is the paragon of self-
made gods, with a career of un-
paralleled brilliance. With Moses
as his champion he created him-
self, and, under two aliases,
reached finally a goal he had not
been aiming at as a young god.
Man he created in his own image,
which is that of a splendid Bronze
Age barbarian."
"Had Yahweh emerged in the
Bronze Age as the all-transcending
god, he would have failed as he
had failed in Egypt as Aton; and
Moses knew it. From history, it
seems that 'to destroy utterly' is
an almost obligatory stage on the
road to civilization, a rite de,pas-
sage of young nations, a transis-
tory phase of uninhibited juvenile
delinquency, glorified by bards
and prophets as 'heroic.' Conse-
quently, forced to accommodate
himself to his historical context,
Yahweh emerges during the
Bronze Age constrained to prove
his supremacy by the supreme vir-
tue of the time: martial force. He
starts his career with wholeheart-
ed enthusiasm, as Lord of Hosts
with slaughter and rape. 'For
every man a damsel or two,' sings
Deborah."

Irony
The ironic philosopher reflects
with a smile that Sir Walter Ra-
leigh is more safely enshrined in
the memory of mankind because
he set his cloak for the Virgin
Queen to walk upon than because
he carried the English name to un-
discovered countries.
—W. Somerset Maugham.

There's a
place
for mentally
retarded
people.

Maybe right in yout
business.

.

Get the facts. Write to:

I

The President's Committee
on Mental Retardation,
Washington, D.G.20201.

I Name

I Address .

I City

I



State

Zip Code

Published as a public service in coop-
*ration with The Advertising Council,

•--

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Hasidic Lore

Friday, December 27, 11611-23

Bible Quiz March 12

The Hasidim came to Rabbi
Phineas of Frankfort (died 1805)
with this question: "Master, who,
if anyone, is to study Maimonides'
Guide for the Perplexed?"
The Master replied: "Know that
the Guide is like an apothecary's
shop. The chemist dwelling within
prepares many useful remedies,
for many ills, being licensed as a
man of skill. But he who has no
learning of remedies and diseases,
let him beware how he meddles
with the contents of the shop. The
smallest error may kill a man.
The least want of precaution may
involve grievous punishment, and
any mistake entails loss of reputa-
tion."



A terrible famine once occurred
in the Ukraine and the poor could
buy no bread. Ten disciples assem-
bled at the home of the "Spoler
Grandfather" (died 1811) for a
session of the Rabbinical Court.
The Spoler said to them:
"I have a case in judgment
against the Lord. According to rab-
binical law. a master who buys a
Jewish serf for a designated time
(six years or up to the Jubilee
year) must support not only him
but also his family. Now the Lord
bought us in Egypt as his serfs,
since He says: 'For to Me are the
sons of Israel serfs,' and the Pro-
phet Ezekiel declared that even
in Exile, Israel is the slave of God.
Therefore, 0 Lord, I ask that Thou
abide by the Law and support Thy
serfs with their families."
The ten judges rendered judg-
ment in favor of the Spoler Rabbi.
In a few days a large shipment of
grain arrived from Siberia, and
bread could be bought by the poor.

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The fourth
International Bible Quiz will be
held in Jerusalem's Convention
Hall on March 12. Officials said
that to date, 15 countries had ac-
cepted invitations to participate.

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